About the Big HOle River Drought Management Plan
Shared Sacrifice, Shared Success
The Big Hole River Drought Management Plan designates target river flow and temperature conditions for fish health in five river sections of the Big Hole River. The plan includes voluntary conservation targets for all water users, MFWP fishing restriction criteria, and information tools. Conservation actions are designed support the health of the fishery.
The plan outlines voluntary conservation actions and relies on Shared Sacrifice, Shared Success – if all users sacrifice, we can all be successful in protecting the fishery. The plan also designates MFWP fishing restrictions when drought conditions reach critical levels.
The BHWC DMP originated in 1997. The plan is reviewed annually by a committee made up of irrigators, fishermen, conservation groups, and agency representatives as well as the entire BHWC.
From Jacqueline Knutson, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Hydrologist. As of 9/19/2018:
Streamflows: There are 42 days left for flow-based restrictions in the DMP. Streamflows remained near or above average in both the upper and lower basins this summer aided by a great start from above average snowpack. Lack of precipitation was our nemesis this year and we went 52 days without measurable precipitation in some places between June and September. We were fortunate to have great temperatures, especially cool at night, which succeeded in keeping Hoot Owl restrictions at bay. We dropped below CCAA flow targets in the upper basin in mid-July and I began working with landowners on July 18 to implement flow plans which have aided in keeping the river unrestricted thus far.
Forecast: We are still in ENSO-neutral conditions but the likelihood that El Nino is on its way is increasing through the fall and is currently up to 70% for this winter. It is increasingly likely that El Nino will be here by December. El Nino winters typically bring milder and drier winters to Montana so this is something to keep in mind as we watch our snowpack (hopefully) build and prepare for next year.
The outlook through November currently favors average precipitation and above average temperatures.
These forecasts are always subject to change. For more information, visit: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/.
2018 USGS Gage Bill:
Water Temperature at Big Hole River @ Wise River (Dickie Bridge), Maiden Rock, and Notch Bottom (Glen):
USGS Flow Gages for Upper Big Hole CCAA program:
The Wise River real-time gage was installed near the mouth of the Wise River October 2015. The Big Hole Watershed Committee sought installation in order to continue flow and temperature monitoring in the Wise River, as well provide information for Wise River irrigators. The gage reports flow, stage and water temperature in real-time via Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Surface Water website. The gage is part of the 2015 launch of DNRC & Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology real-time monitoring system for small streams, who installed and operates the gage. Funding was provided by Big Hole Watershed Committee, The Nature Conservancy, and Montana Trout Unlimited and is graciously hosted on the PKR Ranch. The Big Hole Watershed Committee in partnership with DNRC, MFWP, and Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology have been conducting monitoring of the Wise River surface and groundwater since 2011.